Hometown: Grand Rapids, Michigan
Since her days as a college student, Patricia had fostered dreams of starting her own t-shirt company. But as the years rolled by, she spent her time being overworked and underpaid as a tenured college counselor unhappy with the direction of her life. It wasn’t until she went natural that the leader of this growing cultural movement found the courage to launch her own line of clothing and accessories, Global Couture.
Now with a booming clientele and plenty of dope (and empowering) threads to nourish them, Patricia is steadily ascending the ladder of happiness and success. And as both a woman bent on cultural upliftment and a life coach who’s authored two entrepreneurial guides, she’s taking as many of her followers as she can along for the climb.
Read on to learn about Patricia’s remarkable journey of self-discovery and passion, and how she transformed her love for creating into the job of her dreams.
CM: So you have this successful t-shirt and jewelry line that you’ve been operating for the past two years, but what were you doing before you launched Global Couture?
So what was the push that inspired you to start your own business?
‘Going back to my roots’ during my natural hair journey turned out to be the spark of inspiration that I needed. This journey has truly been self-affirming. Through this journey, I fell in love with the freedom, self-expression, and renewed confidence that has been fostered. All from a simple hairdo change. I found quickly that it was more than just a hairstyle change. It became a lifestyle change. I began to take more risks. I stepped outside of the expected boundaries and mainstream forms of beauty, hairstyle, clothing and accessories. I believed that this ‘mini transformation,’ paired with my world travels (I visited South America, Asia, Europe, and the Caribbean) added to my appreciation for various forms of beauty, personal expression and cultural expression.
Thus, Global Couture was born. It is an expression of my love for travel, self-exploration, cultural expression and creativity. I design hair accessories, jewelry and apparel for the bold, chic, and culturally curious. Global Couture is all about trying to spread the word about embracing your natural hair and its reflection of our history. ‘Loving your hair represents loving yourself.’ Love your curls, if they are wavy, curly, kinky or coily.
One of Patricia’s t-shirt designs
I love that message. I think it’s important that Black women truly embrace it. But how did you transition from your regular 9 to 5 to your operating your own business with such a powerful message?
When I finally took that leap and started my business–I literally woke up one day and decided to take the plunge– I knew that it was everything that I had been wanting. Nothing made me happier than getting home to see what orders had come through and fulfilling the orders for my customers. I finally felt as though I were fulfilling my purpose and doing something that brought me unadulterated joy.
The first months of having my business, I sacrificed all of my free time to get it off the ground. Every second that I was not at work or at school, I was using to work on my passion. To be honest, at work I was doing the minimum that was needed to get by and focusing most of my mental energy on developing my business. I lived for the clock to strike four so that I could leave. I was that excited about my business!
On a scale of 1-10, how happy are you with your decision to start your own business?
Tell me more about the Global Couture Foundation and ‘I Am Global’ campaign, and what made you decide to dedicate a portion of your business to raising money for charity?
The foundation was always a goal of the business structure. I launched the foundation in 2013. The Global Couture Foundation is dedicated to positively influencing lives and by extension society. We acknowledge that the change we want to see in our world must start with every individual who believes there is hope for a better tomorrow. Global Couture is committed to serving and enhancing philanthropic efforts worldwide through innovative and creative thinking with our goal in mind; improving the lives of individuals who benefit from the charities we support.
The foundation believes in fostering good relationships with our global neighbors because what we do in our individual societies ultimately affects all. This supports unity and a unified world is the solution to many of our international problems. Are objective [is] to give back to international charities and add to the resources of philanthropic arms worldwide. Global Couture created the ‘I am Global’ tee as a fundraising campaign. All profits (100%) from the sale of these tees will be donated to UNICEF.
You also wrote a guide on how to start a successful business, as well as a guide on how to build your Instagram audience. Why was it important for you to divulge this information to aspiring entrepreneurs?
What’s the best thing about owning your own business?
The best part is the opportunity to grow everyday. I feel so much more stronger as I watch my efforts rewarded. I don’t think I would have been confident enough before the business to travel around the world alone for a year. I also can’t forget, I really love not getting up in the mornings! I am a night owl and love my schedule.
I’m the same way, so I completely understand. What would you say is the hardest thing about operating your own business?
The hardest part is the constant struggle to convince myself that my choice is non-traditional and that’s ok. I went to college and grad school for a long time to drop all of that to pursue a totally different direction, but I am really happy and grateful. I just remind myself, ‘What’s the worse that can happen?’ I have to get a job again one day so I really don’t fear this journey.
What’s your personal favorite?
With such empowering messages and themes embodied in your jewelry and apparel, I’m sure you have to get a lot of positive feedback from customers and supporters. Would you say that’s one of your biggest accomplishments with your brand thus far?
I think I am most humbled and appreciative of the feedback that I receive from customers and blog readers; telling me how important the message is that is being communicated. Anytime I am told that Global Couture has inspired someone to stay the course on their journey of self-acceptance and cultural appreciation, it means so much to me.
Also, launching the Global Couture Foundation last year,. I created the “I Am Global” tee, designed to support local and international philanthropy [which is also a major accomplishment for me]. I want my designs to embody my commitment to social justice and cultural edification.
What are your short-term and long-term goals for your business?
My short term goals are to expand my apparel presence in boutiques and build my coaching business to help women thrive in their personal [lives], careers, and businesses. I would I say I have a long term goal but it wouldn’t make a difference [laughs]. This ride has had so many twists and turns that I’m not sure what to expect. I remain open and excited to see where the journey takes me.
What gives you the drive to keep going with your business and your mission, despite how hectic it gets?
What advice would you give to anyone who wants to start their own business, but is holding back out of fear?
Sound advice. What’s next for Global Couture?
I hope Global Couture creates dialogue around challenging stereotypes and unchecked social norms. For me, hair is the beginning of the conversation of self-acceptance and passion. I have started life coaching for women looking to make changes in their lives at www.patriciakellercoaching.com